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Dive Review of Bilikiki Cruises in
Solomon Islands

Bilikiki Cruises: "Incredible diving on a fantastic boat : expensive but worth it!", Oct, 2016,

by Joel Snyder, AZ, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 26 reports with 22 Helpful votes). Report 9495 has 3 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments I waited a while to write this report to make sure that it wasn't "just dived shine" for our trip on the Bilikiki, and... it isn't. This truly is some of the best diving in the world, off a great boat with a talented and helpful crew.

Bilikiki is run using a normal liveaboard schedule: up early, four dives a day punctuated by meals and snacks, followed by a nite dive if you want it. Boat operation was very smooth. On Day 1, you are assigned a spot and a tank (which is refilled via a whip, so no changing tanks unless you want to). The dive deck is not crowded---we had a space between each of us. A large camera table in the center, along with rinse tanks, catered to the many photographers.

Each dive followed a similar pattern. Briefing (with accompanied hand-drawn chart), then three "tinnie" runs out to the site, usually within a 2-minute ride or less. Dive master would should "tinnie 1" and then up to 8 people could shout out their diver number. Crew would grab your gear and carry it to the tinnie. Once all gear was loaded, divers would come on board, sit in front of the gear, and have barely enough time to get everything in place before it was time to reverse-roll into the water. (repeat for tinnie 2 and tinnie 3). In all, we were usually all in the water within a 5-minute window. No competition for "first boat;" it was all good.

Do your dive, with a recommended "pop up at 60 minutes" (just to keep the boat on schedule). Follow the divemaster if you want; or not. When you're ready, pop up to the surface and bob there for 1-2 minutes until a tinnie came to pick you up and ferry you back to the boat. In moments of extreme congestion (rare), the whole retrieval process could take as long as 10 minutes; typically 5 minutes or less as the tinnies were in continuous operation with 4-5 divers per run back to the boat.

Back at the boat, jump off the tinnie and get out of the way as the crew would drag your gear off and put it back in your spot within a few seconds. (Occasionally they would declare "open pool" meaning that the boat was not moving all day and you could just jump off, dive, and come back when you felt. Those were the 90-minute dives...)

Later, rinse, repeat.

Diving was incredible. Not sure how to add details, other then "wow."

We took the 2-week tour, an unusually long one, and we jumped from one dive site to another. A few wrecks, but this was not the focus (as most wrecks are too deep for good recreational diving).

This diving routine was broken up by occasional shore visits to interact with the Solomon Islands villagers. These are set up---the boat is about the only commerce that comes to each island---to maximize both cultural interaction as well as commerce, although there was no high pressure selling, just an incredible array of hand-crafted goods, mostly wood carvings. There is also a small economy established by the Bilikiki in agriculture: they started bringing seeds to the villages with a promise to buy the crops. There is now an established farming cycle and the nice result is that we had fresh vegetables (and fresh fish) throughout the trip. Food was A+---as good or better than any liveaboard (and many dive resorts) I've ever seen.

The crew is all Solomon Islands, except for the boat managers, a foreign couple. Boat was clean and in excellent repair. A/C below decks a bit cold for some, but perfect for others (as always). Plentiful water for showers, although with a shower on deck after dives there was little need. Plenty of space on the boat---a huge salon half devoted to cameras and half to buffet food service (with a true bar in the back!), a huge covered open area outside for eating, and additional sun and shaded areas if you wanted to get away from things.

The whole experience was incredible.
Websites Bilikiki Cruises   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Asia; Carib; Mexico; Hawaii; Red Sea
Closest Airport HONIARA Getting There Expensive flights via Australia; cheap ones via Fiji.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80-°F / 27-°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 40-80 Ft/ 12-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Encouraged safe diving by planning dives at normal recreational depths; no explicit time limit other than peer pressure to keep things in the 60-70 minute range just to keep boat on schedule.
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 5 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Cameras very pampered: a battery/charge room upstairs, plenty of tables and special camera towels downstairs; rinse tanks and a big camera table. Photographers will be very happy on this boat. Crew extremely aware of how to help with big rigs.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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